OHS Matters: Why Consultation is Even More Important Today

One of the seemingly hardest duties for many employers to comply with is the duty to consult with elected health and safety representatives (HSRs). This is a legal duty under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 – and has been a legal duty since 1985 when workers were given the right to elect representatives, and these representatives were given rights and powers.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Kirsty Davies

Kirsty Davies
Health Workers Union
Rank and File, Workplace HSR

How long have you been a union member?

Since 2005.

Why did you join the union?

I was raised by union parents who had always belonged to their unions. When in permanent work, I have always joined. I believe it is an important example to set for staff particularly now as I am in a head chef role. I like to know that I will have support if I need it, an organisation that can represent myself and my workmates if I am unable do so myself

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Analysis: Report From the Global Trade Union Assembly

The Global Trade Union Assembly (GTUA), “Pandemic and Beyond: Workers Organising for a Public Future”, which took place over seven events from July to September, was convened by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy and over fifty unions and union federations from around the world. Over 1000 unionists participated. Trade Unions for Energy Democracy is an alliance of unions, global union federations, national bodies, and other worker organisations from around the world advocating democratisation and public ownership of energy generation, and a shift to renewable energy and a sustainable economy.

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Analysis: Justice For Tanya Day

Our mother was a proud, staunch Yorta Yorta woman. She was a doting mother, grandmother and Aunty. She was and will be remembered for her strength, resilience, beauty, kind heart and of course her smile, fashion sense, deadly feeds and her love of the colour pink.

We have spent close to three years fighting for justice for the death of our mum. On 27 August, we were told that the police officers involved in her death avoided prosecution. This is despite the coroner finding that mum’s death was preventable and that the police officers failed to take proper care of mum’s safety, security, health and welfare.

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OHS Matters: Toilet Access During COVID-19

COVID-19 – and the measures workplaces are having to take in seeking to minimise the risk of workers contracting the disease – is continuing to have consequences, sometimes unforeseen ones. The VTHC gets some interesting questions from workers – here’s one:

“I’m a truck driver and make deliveries to, and pick up containers from, various companies and locations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I am constantly getting denied access to toilets. Previously there were no problems with me using their facilities. Is this legal? Can these companies deny me access to the toilets when I’m doing deliveries? On one occasion recently three clients in a row wouldn’t allow me to use their facilities, and this created a real problem for me.”

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Backbone of Our Movement: Manolya Moustafa

 

Manolya Moustafa
Australian Education Union, Sub-branch President (delegate)

How long have you been a union member?

Since 2005.

Why did you join the union?

Workers are an exploited and oppressed class, the only way to fight for our rights and win gains is by working together and organising as a collective. A union is a basic starting point for workers work together and fight for our rights.

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Analysis: Lockdown Fatigue

The media and the politicians are telling us that many of us in Melbourne, Victoria are experiencing lockdown fatigue. That the people that are defying the lockdown laws are crazy or antisocial. They are telling us to hang in there, that we are all in this together.

There is another way to understand this fatigue.

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OHS Matters: Explosion in Lebanon – could it happen here?

On the evening of August 4, a fire in what is believed to be a fireworks factory, led to a small explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. Subsequently there was a massive explosion of a warehouse holding 2,700 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate is a common fertilizing agent - and is also the main ingredient in some types of explosives. The chemical had been stored in the warehouse since 2014 when it had been seized from a Russian cargo ship. It has been reported that Lebanese customs officials wrote letters to the judiciary at least six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to dispose of the highly combustible material – reportedly not getting any response. Because of the nature of the materials they were unable to act. Other reports are that customs officials did not follow proper procedures: they simply kept resending the same letters in response to the judge’s request for more information.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Dani

DaniMartin_Print.jpg

Dani
RTBU, Women’s Advocate

How long have you been a union member?

Three years.

Why did you join the union?

I honestly didn’t know much about unions before I started in public transport. I joined initially because I knew that it would mean that I would have support if I needed it.

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OHS Matters: COVID-19 (again!) What are the Implications for Employers?

 

We have heard the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, say that at one stage at least, 80 per cent of newly identified COVID-19 infections came from workplaces.

During Stage 4 all non-essential businesses in metropolitan Melbourne have been closed – and those that are still operating must have implemented a COVIDSafe plan by midnight August 7. In addition, workers needing to move outside their 5km from home, or who need to be out between 8pm and 5am must also have Permitted Worker Permits. These are measures being taken by the government to control Victoria’s ‘second’ and more serious wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Apart from the drastic financial effects of these measures on workers and employers/businesses, - what implications are there for employers if a worker contracts COVID-19 in the course of their employment?

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